2020 Moreau-Naudet, Chablis, Vaillons Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
The 2020 looks like an exceptionally exciting vintage for Chablis and this Vaillons 1er Cru from Moreau-Naudet is a stunning and crystalline effort with chiseled details, mineral driven personality and surprising depth and concentration, more in line with a Grand Cru, making it an awesome value. The nose is flinty, with wet stones, hazelnut and citrus blossom with hints of orchard fruits, leading to a pretty expansive palate of lemon, apple, pear and tangy peach fruits with touches of clove spice, yeast, quince and golden fig. This is far richer and impactful that expected, but still is full of life and vibrant energy, thanks to its natural acidity, it’s unmistakably Chablis, lingering with oyster shell, exotic passionfruit, a faint wood note and bitter lime. The texture, in this Moreau-Naudet Vaillons, is just the right amount of creamy and the mouth feel is everything you’d want in a serious Premier Cru and while young, it delivers the goods and will be easily enjoyed, especially with sea foods and or soft cheeses, I can’t wait to try it with sushi like Toro and or Saba, raw Tuna and Mackerel respectively. Moreau-Naudet’s holdings in Vaillons are tiny, consisting of 35-50 year old vines set on the historic Kimmeridgian limestone and some rocky top soil that gives the terroir influence and class here. While Dauvissat and Raveneau are nose bleed priced these days, Moreau-Naudet continues to be an enthusiasts go to for a bargain in the region, and I suggest you grab as many of these 2020s that you can afford and find, especially this pale Vaillons, which I could not put down.

Things at this estate have not been easy and Virginie Moreau, as noted here, has bravely carried on after the tragic death of her husband Stéphane in 2016 and continues the excellence found at Moreau-Naudet with these 2020s even upping the game to the next level, an amazing achievement and act of courage. As mentioned in prior reviews, this is a winery that prides itself on transparency and old world charm, of the brilliant Moreau-Naudet lineup, the regular Chablis AC is the only wine in their cellar that sees any new oak, helping provide the seasoning for those barrels which end up in the Premier Cru program after the first fill, as was the case here with the Vaillons 1er Cru that saw no new wood. Even so, as Moreau-Naudet’s importer Grand Cru Selections notes, it is always just a few new barrels in that regular bottling and it is not overtly obvious in that wine. These pristine Chardonnays, that show a saline crispness, see a fermentation, at Moreau-Naudet, that is always natural and spontaneous with indigenous yeasts, followed by a long maceration and elevage on lees, which gives a fantastic result in the wine’s textural quality and richness. The Chablis are usually aged for an average of 18 months, depending on the vintage, in a combination of stainless steel and 600-liter French oak barrels and bottled largely unfiltered. The iconic chalky element is well integrated into these wines and this vintage highlights its sense of place to perfection. In the past I’ve noted that these sublime pale straw colored Moreau-Naudet Chablis are excellent as both an aperitif and main event wine, but really I wish I had bought more of this one and I am thrilled to try the basic Chablis too, bravo is well deserved for this captivating effort!
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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